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NHS (U.K.) 

Minimum alcohol pricing would 'save 100s of lives'

“‘Hundreds of lives lost' over failure to bring in minimum alcohol pricing,” The Independent reports. The news is based on research that modelled the effect of a minimum alcohol price per unit of around 40-50p. It suggested that this would be 50 times more effective than the current ban on "below-cost sales" (where alcohol is sold at a loss to attract sales of other goods).The statistical

Viagra 'may cause visual disturbance' in some men

"Viagra may permanently damage vision in some men, study finds," reports The Guardian. But the news is, in fact, based on research in mice. This research suggests the medication may not be suitable for men who carry a gene mutation associated with the inherited eye condition retinitis pigmentosa. Researchers found Viagra (the brand name of the drug sildenafil) caused visual disturbance in

High levels of tooth decay found in three-year-olds

"Tooth decay affects 12% of three-year-olds, says survey," BBC News reports. The survey, carried out by Public Health England, found big variations in different parts of the country. Experts believe sugary drinks are to blame for this trend.The survey looked at the prevalence and severity of tooth decay in three-year-old children in 2013. This is the first time the dental health of this age g

Deep-fried Mars bars: unhealthy, but no killer

“Eating a deep-fried Mars bar could give you a stroke in minutes,” reports the Metro. However, the study that prompted this headline found no evidence that the Scottish snack can potentially trigger a fatal stroke within minutes. Fans of deep-fried Mars bars actually have little to worry about in this regard, aside from the obvious risks of regularly consuming a meal full of sugar and satu

Will a 'wonder drug' be available in 10 years?

"Wonder drug to fight cancer and Alzheimer's disease within 10 years," is the headline in The Daily Telegraph. This headline is a textbook example of hope (and hype) triumphing over reality, as the new "wonder drug" is neither available today nor inevitable in the future. The headline was based on a study that provides new information about the role of the protein N-myristoylation (NMT) in

Cherry juice touted as treatment for gout

“Daily drinks of cherry juice concentrate could help thousands of patients beat gout,” the Mail on Sunday reports. This headline is based on a small study that found drinking tart cherry juice twice a day temporarily lowered the blood uric acid levels of 12 young healthy volunteers for up to eight hours after they consumed the drink. This is of potential interest, as high levels of uric acid

Could curry spice boost brain cell repair?

“Spicy diet can beat dementia,” is the unsupported claim in the Daily Express. Researchers found that the spice turmeric stimulated the growth of neural stem cells in rats, though this is a long way from an effective dementia treatment for humans.This was laboratory and animal research investigating the effect of a turmeric extract (aromatic turmerone) on neural stem cells (NSCs). NSCs have s

Antibiotic treatments 'fail' 15% of the time

“Antibiotic treatments from GPs 'fail 15% of the time’,'' BBC News reports. In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers estimated that just under one in seven antibiotic prescriptions in 2011 "failed".This study examined the failure rates of antibiotics prescribed by GPs in the UK for common infections over a 21-year period – from 1991 to 2012. Most of the failures (94%) were cases

Skirt size increase ups breast cancer risk

“Skirt size increase linked to breast cancer risk,” BBC News reports. The story comes from a UK study of nearly 93,000 postmenopausal women that looked at whether changes in skirt size since their twenties was associated with increased risk of breast cancer.It found that going up a skirt size every 10 years was associated with a 33% increased risk of developing breast cancer after the menopau

Media multitasking 'brain shrink' claims unproven

“Multitasking makes your brain smaller,” the Daily Mail reports. UK researchers found that people who regularly “media multitasked” had less grey matter in a region of the brain involved in emotion.The researchers were specifically interested in what they term media multitasking; for example checking your Twitter feed on your smartphone while streaming a boxset to your tablet as you scan your

Benefits of statins 'outweigh diabetes risk'

“Statins increase risk of diabetes, but benefits are still worth it, say experts,” The Guardian reports. A large study found the medication lead to a modest increase in weight and subsequent diabetes risk. The authors report that these risks were more than offset by the reduction in cardiovascular disease, but these results were not provided in the study. The study involved nearly 130,000

Ebola outbreak to get worse, says WHO

“Ebola infections will treble to 20,000 by November,” BBC News reports, following the publication of an analysis of the current epidemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).The report assesses what is known about the spread and devastating impact of the Ebola outbreak to date, while also predicting what may happen in the near future.The study used data from five West African countries a

Job insecurity may increase adult asthma risk

“People fearful of losing their jobs are 60% more likely to develop asthma,” The Independent reports.Researchers have looked at whether perceived job insecurity (specifically, the likelihood that they would lose their jobs) affected people’s risk of developing asthma in Germany during the “Great Recession” (the global economic downturn that lasted from 2008 to 2012).They found that people

Watch less TV to prevent obesity, says NICE

“Take TV-free days to combat obesity, health experts urge,” The Guardian reports. This is one of a range of new recommendations from National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) draft guidelines that are designed to help adults and children maintain a healthy weight.Although the headlines have largely focused on TV (as well as other types of screen time, such as smartphones), the r

Late cancer diagnosis 'costing lives and money'

"Almost half of cancer patients diagnosed too late," says The Guardian, citing a new report that explored both the financial and health impact of late cancer diagnosis. The late diagnosis of almost all types of cancer usually means the disease has already spread within the body, making it less treatable, reducing a patient's chances of survival, and potentially increasing the cost of effectiv

Dry-roasted peanuts may be worst for nut allergies

“Dry-roasted peanuts 'worst for allergies',” the Mail Online reports. New research involving mice suggests that the roasting process increases the "allergic power" of peanuts. Researchers exposed mice to small amounts of proteins derived from either "raw" peanuts or dry-roasted peanuts, to “prime” their immune systems for an allergic reaction. They later gave them larger doses of the proteins

Mums 'feel shame' about how they feed their babies

"Mothers are made to feel 'marginalised and ashamed' when they breastfeed in public, according to an international study," the Mail Online reports. But the same study found mothers who bottlefeed also feel subject to criticism.The study used discussion groups and interviews to explore the thoughts, feelings and experiences – as well as perceived barriers and facilitators – of feeding infants

'Angelina Jolie effect' doubled breast gene tests

“Referrals to breast cancer clinics more than doubled in the UK after Angelina Jolie announced she had had a double mastectomy,” BBC News reports. NHS services saw a sharp rise in referrals from women worried about their family history of breast cancer.In May 2013, actress Angelina Jolie announced that she had decided to undergo a double mastectomy followed by breast reconstruction surgery, a

Chokeberry extract 'boosts pancreas cancer chemo'

“Wild berries native to North America may have a role in boosting cancer therapy,” BBC News reports. It has been found – in a laboratory study using pancreatic cancer cells – that chokeberry extract may help increase the powers of chemotherapy drugs in treating pancreatic cancer. Researchers tested an extract of chokeberry – a plant found on the eastern side of the continent – on p

Do artificial sweeteners raise diabetes risk?

"Artificial sweeteners may promote diabetes, claim scientists," reports The Guardian. But before you go clearing your fridge of diet colas, the research in question – extensive as it was – was mainly in mice.The researchers' experiments suggest artificial sweeteners, particularly saccharin, change the bacteria that normally live in the gut and help to digest nutrients. These changes could

Cosmetics blamed for raised child asthma risk

"Chemicals in make-up and perfumes fuelling rise in children with asthma," reports the Mail Online.One scientist, the website claims, suggests that women should take measures such as checking the contents of their make-up and avoiding using plastic containers for food. This story is based on research following 300 inner-city children in the US and their mothers from the time of their pregn

HPV urine test could screen for cervical cancer

"A simple urine test which can detect the human papilloma virus (HPV) could offer women a much less invasive alternative to [current] cervical cancer screening," The Independent reports. Research found urine-based testing for HPV DNA showed signs it might be accurate enough to provide a viable screening method, given further research and development.The papers report on a review of 14 dive

Sugar intake guideline 'needs lowering'

“Sugar intake must be slashed further,” reports BBC News today.The news reports follow an ecological study estimating the burden of disease caused by sugar-related tooth decay in adults and children across a life course, in a number of different countries. It calculated that the burden would be significantly reduced by setting a target limit of less than 3% of total energy intake from suga

Brain scans offer fresh insights into ADHD

"Doctors could soon diagnose ADHD in children with a brain scan," is the over-exuberant headline from the Mail Online.The underlying research, based on comparing the brain scans of 133 people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with people without the condition, highlighted areas of brain connectivity that were different in the two groups. These differences may be a result of

'Rebooted' stem cells may lead to new treatments

"Scientists have managed to 'reset' human stem cells," the Mail Online reports. It is hoped studying these cells will provide more information about the mechanics of early human development. This headline comes from a laboratory study that reports to have found a way to turn the clock back on human stem cells so they exhibit characteristics more similar to seven- to nine-day-old embryonic cel

Could meditation help combat migraines?

“Daily meditation may be the most effective way of tackling migraine,” the Daily Express reports. This headline is not justified, as it was based on a small pilot study involving just 19 people.It showed that an eight week "mindfulness-based stress reduction course" (a combination of mediation and yoga-based practices) led to benefits in measures of headache duration and subsequent disabil

Pregnant drink binges harm kids' mental health

“Binge drinking ONCE during pregnancy can damage your child's mental health and school results,” says the Mail Online. The headline follows an analysis of results from a study including thousands of women and their children. In analyses of up to 7,000 children, researchers found that children of women who engaged in binge drinking at least once in pregnancy, but did not drink daily, had sligh

Weight discrimination study fuels debate

Much of the media has reported that discriminatory “fat shaming” makes people who are overweight eat more, rather than less.The Daily Mail describes how, “telling someone they are piling on the pounds just makes them delve further into the biscuit tin”. While this image may seem like a commonsense “comfort eating” reaction, the headlines are not borne out by the science. In fact, the news

'Food addiction' doesn't exist, say scientists

“Food is not addictive ... but eating is: Gorging is psychological compulsion, say experts,” the Mail Online reports. The news follows an article in which scientists argue that – unlike drug addiction – there is little evidence that people become addicted to the substances in certain foods.Researchers argue that instead of thinking of certain types of food as addictive, it would be more us

Bacteria found in honey may help fight infection

“Bacteria found in honeybee stomachs could be used as alternative to antibiotics,” reports The Independent.The world desperately needs new antibiotics to counter the growing threat of bacteria developing resistance to drug treatment. A new study has found that 13 bacteria strains living in honeybees’ stomachs can reduce the growth of drug-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, in the laboratory.

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